Contemporary Christian Music Watch
By Jim Galipeau

It's still early in the year, but 1993 is already proving to be quite eventful! BMG Music and Reunion Records have cut a deal, Benson Music Group is suing Word, Incorporated and Cap Cities, the Grammy nominations have been announced and my children are already helping us reach the deductible on our health insurance!

There are two new groups in the race for Grammys. The Newsboys were nominated in the Best Rock/Contemporary Gospel Category for their Star Song release Not Ashamed, as well as the new Vireo group Pray For Rain for their self-titled project. Also nominated were Geoff Moore & The Distance with A Friend Like U, Petra for Unseen Power, and White Heart's Tales Of Wonder.

In the Best Pop/Gospel Category, Kentucky's Steven Curtis Chapman's Great Adventure was nominated for a Grammy, as was label mate Susan Ashton for Angels Of Mercy. Louisville's Larnelle Harris received yet another nomination; this year it's for his pop effort I Choose Joy. Also in the running for a Grammy are Mylon LeFevre's Faith, Hope & Love and Addicted To Jesus from Carman.

Some other noteworthy nominations include Sometimes Miracles HideBy Bruce Carroll for Best Southern Gospel Album. The Best Contemporary Soul Gospel category had nominations for Al Green's Love Is Reality, Vicky Winans for The Lady and Handel's Messiah — A Soulful Celebration performed by various artists and produced by Merrvyn Winans. In my opinion, the latter is a shoo-in for a Grammy. The awards show will air live on CBS, 8:00 p.m., February 24, from Los Angeles.

After seeing Word and Sparrow sign with new owners late last year, other Christian record companies seem to want to jump on the bandwagon. Harper-Collins has the Benson Music Group on the table and Thomas Nelson is reportedly looking at Star Song Communications.

Meanwhile, reunion Entertainment Group, BMG & Blanton Harrell have announced a newly formed partnership called BMG Ventures. BMG Ventures will control 50% of Blanton Harrell Management and Reunion Records. BMG will also purchase 100% of Reunion's catalogs and will establish a new publishing company. This will affect Michael W. Smith's release Change Your World, which will now be promoted through BMG/RCA. Now, are you confused!? Of the deal, Dan Harrell of Reunion and Blanton Harrell, says it was "done strictly out of our desire to expand, and it will definitely not change day-to-day operation of our staff." Harrell also says it will allow Reunion to move into areas such as books, sports management, films and videos.

Looking at the numbers from Billboard's Year in Music must make the folks at BMG smile. In the Hot 100 chart, Reunion Records was listed as the No. 12 Adult Contemporary Label of the Year and Kathy Trocolli as the chart's No. 18 most played artist. Amy Grant pulled in some impressive numbers too: as the No. 5 Female Artist on the Top 100, the No. 4 Female Artist on the Top 200 album chart, and also pulled a No. 3 on the AC chart.

Lawyers for Benson have prepared a lawsuit against Word Incorporated and Word's former owner ABC/Cap Cities. The suit alleges that Word interfered with contract and copyright infringements after Benson took over the distribution of Maranatha! product. Word has denied the allegations and is also facing a lawsuit filed by Maranatha! late last year. Both cases go to court this summer.

On the lighter side, Integrity Music, known for its praise and worship music, has signed a techno-rave band from England. 65dBA will have their release in the stores any day.

New releases are also on the way from Phil Keaggy. Crimson & Blue contains 70 minutes of pure Phil! Myrrh records has also released another CD for serious Keaggy fans with out-takes, alternate and extended mixes — with one mix over 12 minutes! If you're serious about your Keaggy, then be looking for Revelator. Later this year there will be a video with much of the material from Crimson & Blue.

Bob Carlisle now has the chance to showcase his incredible vocal talents soon, thanks to a solo contract with Sparrow. The lead singer for the Allies hopes to have the project out this fall. Also signing is former Atlantic artist Ashley Cleveland. Her Reunion release is scheduled for April.

Remember the benefit concert for Mark Heard in Nashville last month? Well, the concert raised over $18,000 to help the family pay medical bills. Mark recently died from complications he suffered due to a heart attack last year.

Finally, if you're planning a trip south this year — maybe to Disney World — be sure to stop at the Crystal Music Palace. The $2.8 million facility is located at the entrance of Old Town on Highway 192 just before Disney World. Crystal City Music Palace will have live music seven nights a week and top name contemporary Christian artists every weekend.

Next month I should have the Grammy winners and a look at this year's Dove Awards. In the meantime, be sure to do something nice for your sweetie!

WJIE Picks

Go There With You

Steven Curtis Chapman

It's Time Wayne Watson

Through His Eyes 4 Him

The Extra Mile Al Denson

Favorite Song Of All

Phillips, Craig & Dean

There Stands the Cost Larnelle Harris

Destiny Twila Paris

Serve the Lord Carman

If You Could See Me Now Truth

He Watches Over You

Sandi Patti & BeBe Winans